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I am thrilled to share with you the series of guest posts appearing here in the month of June, as I take a little extra time to settle in and soak up my family and the new life among us. "Soulful Mothering" is a series of written words, photographs, craft projects and thoughts on mothering from some of my favorite ladies on the web. I'm so grateful to each of them for sharing their time with me, and their hearts and words in this space. I have been inspired by the gifts they've shared, and I'm sure you will too. Enjoy!
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Good morning SouleMama readers. I say good morning because most of my mornings involve a visit here, and I am always full of gratitude to start my day with the sense of wonder, courage, and purpose that Amanada's words and photographs inspire. Today I humbly offer some words on the joy of handmade hula hoops.
My daughter Storey and I saw our first handmade hula hoop when we performed at Clearwaters Great Hudson River Revival Festival in 2009. Storey came running to me during sound check full of excitement. She had tried to hula hoop before with a regular store-bought hoop and had always ended up frustrated - but here she had found one from a festival vendor that really worked, it was heavier weight which actually made it easier to do, and it looked very cool as well! We bought it for her even though there was very little room left in the car with all of our musical equipment. I'm so glad we did.
Here Storey is that day. She looks so serious! I think she sort of can't believe she is hula hooping successfully, after trying and failing for so long!
Here we are back at the Clearwater Festival the next year in 2010. It's hard to believe this is only one year later, I think she grew a foot between the ages of eight and nine. By the time this picture was taken she was doing tricks, making up routines, having a blast with her hula hoops.
That summer there was a drought in our area which brought with it the silver lining of the temporary disappearance of mosquitoes, so we were spending all of our evenings outside. Hula hooping was the perfect activity for watching the sunset, the moon rise and the fireflies dance. Our soundtrack was Carole King Tapestry and Michael Jackson Off the Wall. We decided it was the summer of hula hoops and that it was time to learn to make our own!
I did a little searching around for instructions, we figured it out and made many. We bought enough poly pipe at the hardware store to make several, and it became the favorite playdate activity, many afternoons were spent teaching friends our new magic trick and sending them home with their own colorful hoops. We made them as gifts for Grandma. We even made them at Storeys crafty 10th birthday party this year. The girls at the party were so creative, layering patterned duct tape with solid electrical tape and making their own distinctive designs.
When it was time for us to release our new album last fall, our record label wanted us to make some kind of promotional video for it, with a fancy interview talking about the album. I said, how about instead we show people how we make hula hoops! Thank goodness Smithsonian Folkways can have a sense of humor about "promotion." We had so much fun making this video out at my sisters home in Fairfax California while we were out there on tour.
I have to thank Amanda for inspiring me to get crafty and figure out how to make something with my daughter that is beautiful and gets us on our feet and outside together, creating a treasured simple pleasure that I know we will enjoy for years to come.
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Elizabeth Mitchell lives in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York with her husband Daniel, her daughter Storey and their puppy Yuki. They all make music together in a family band called "You Are My Flower" and have collaborated with Ziggy Marley, Levon Helm, Natalie Merchant, Dan Zanes and more. Elizabeth loves the sound of children singing, riding the train and the songs of Kate McGarrigle. More information about her music can be found at youaremyflower.org.